Atmospheric illustrations—lush, dark and mysterious—will lure daring readers into this retelling of a classic tale.
Done in acrylic, Chauffrey's images hint at the ominous through small details that play with the mind. In her sinister forest, thorn-shaped leaves that resemble wolves’ teeth are juxtaposed with tear-shaped ones that mimic Red Riding Hood’s eyes. Thus the forest becomes an extension of the Wolf, hungry and watchful. Tiny brush strokes create luxurious fur for the “handsome wolf,” and the stems of the meadow flowers are as delicate as the girl’s innocence and trust. The detailed landscapes, with their intricate patterns, are evocative of classic Russian illustrations, yet Red herself suggests the pop art of Yoshitomo Nara, whose subjects are both seemingly innocuous and seductively dangerous. Interesting compositions play with space and depth in intriguing ways, as Red delves deeper into the forest, and the Wolf gulps Granny down. The latter is explicitly visible, Granny’s legs kicking the air, while the rest of her is hidden within the smug Wolf. Don’s text, true to earlier versions with a hunter rescuing Red and stones sewn into the wolf’s belly, is clearly moralist, as the hunter receives cakes for his good deed, Granny learns to lock her door, and Red no longer talks to strangers.
Gorgeously designed and packaged with a CD narrated by Imelda Staunton, this provocative telling is for young lovers of the gothic. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-8)